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If you don't watch TCM because you don't care for "old" movies, you're watching during the wrong hours. I saw most of these during the wee hours of Monday mornings in April during the TCM Imports programming.

59. (1713.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (1972)
Based on the critically acclaimed manga comics, I found the live action adventures to actually be better than the source material. Beware that there's a completely gratuitous semi-consensual rape scene (oddly used to demonstrate how honorable the protagonist is), but if that's the strangest thing you've ever seen in Japanese cinema, this might be your first Japanese movie.

62. (1716.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx (1972)
Gotta love that title. The first movie is the origin story, but this one sets up the formula that the others will follow: wandering, wronged protagonist (and his infant son, Daigoro!) takes up odd jobs as stepping stones on the path to vengeance. The highlight here is the the establishment of the cub as an independent character worth cheering for.

64. (1718.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades (1972)
The climactic fight at the end of this episode is so over the top ridiculous that it rivals anything you might see in bigger budget American action blockbuster fare. "A rip-roaring good time!"

66. (1720.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril (1973)
Did I mention the gratuitous nudity earlier? They finally worked it into the story in this tale of a disgraced sword-mistress who uses her feminine charms (read: tits) to distract her opponents.

73. (1727.) Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in the Land of Demons (1973)
Maybe my favorite of the bunch. For one thing, it's beautiful. For another, the themes of honor and responsibility at the core of the series resonate strongly in separate tales for both father and son.

79. (1733.) Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell (1974)
If the James Bond influence was notable back in Baby Cart to Hades, it's written on the surface of this one as the baby cart becomes a Q Branch snowmobile to fight zombies. Not that this is all exactly bad, it just doesn't live up to the bar set by its immediate predecessor.

All six of these were very watchable, and I'd recommend without hesitation to fans of action movies or Tarantino films.

More to come.

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To be continued...

 

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